Monday, May 26, 2008

Coyote Hill Short Track / Hill Climb / XC - Race Report

This was my first wknd of mtnbike racing since last labor day. i “missed” the stress and anxiety that builds days before a race, the poor sleeping, the weird eating habits and concerns, last minute bike repairs, but then the feeling of achievement upon completion, and maybe the most - the camaraderie of race day. since this was my first in a while, and two days of racing vs one, prepare for a long read (or enjoy your usual brief skim).

Saturday. Jenn and Seneca joined me for the trip out to coyote hill, where the trails are sometimes buttery smooth, but mostly challenging rolling NE singletrack. The kind of stuff that you can get on top of and feel great riding, or fall apart on and suffer horribly! If you’re like me, usually you get to do both during a 2hr race!

short track:

saturday. my first time doing short, figured it was like cx - and it was. great weather for racing, 60 degrees, windy, warm sun mostly hiding. put on layers. take-off layers. repeat. thom, greg, and i pre-rode most of the xc course, did a cpl laps of the short-track course, then a lap up the hill climb before staging. nice and warmed-up, we lined-up with a 15? 20? pro/semi-pros/experts. from the gun it was on! full-out or close to it, my breath came in deep ragged breaths, heaving desperately for air. i was surprised to find myself in 4th or 5th into the first cpl laps.

the course wound-up a short climb, through a series of turns, including a nice high banked S, across a short technical bridge, through the start/finish, then back-up the hill. Again. And again. I focused on riding fast smooth lines through the turns, being clean and smooth on the short technical, then hitting the hill in biggest gear possible, sometimes standing, other times pulling-up from the saddle through the bars.

10mins into the race it was clear the short climb was the deciding factor. i was able to "break" free w/Jenn and Seneca cheering on the climb, but I was too anerobic to smile or say anything other than “ouch” as I went by. Seneca cheered me on in her little cute voice with chants of “go dog go!” (a favorite night-time read). it was super great to have them out there, a cpl long days for jenn while i messed around. jenn's optimism and joy are reflected in seneca, they brighten every moment and give meaning.

i knew it wouldn't be long before i saw thom parsons (ibc), and sure enough he slowly ground-up, swooping around me w/3 to go. As he closed-in, I gasped “go aaawaaay” as I thought I was in 1st, having forgotten about the strong greg carpenter (maxxis) way out in front. literally never saw the guy. thom can get on top of whatever gear he's running and he held me off on each of my pitiful seeming attacks, placing me in 3rd for the event. i crossed the line a happy guy, pleased to have survived my first effort in respectable fashion. Go dog go!

hill climb:

we waited for 30mins or so before going-off every 30secs up the hill climb. it was about a mile long w/2 short descents, a mini reverse Super D course. i started 4th or 5th and tried to keep the lead weights masquerading as my legs cranking-up the hill. I don’t think they ever felt so heavy, but I figure everyone’s legs felt equally as shitty! i made-up time on the short fireroad descent, tucking no-brakes back into the climb, now on brent's heels. we soon passed thom who was crazy over-geared for the steeps on his ss, but he was a good sport about it, grinding away at about 20-30RPM. ouch! the small field size worked to my advantage and i took the event w/my 5min effort. a 1st and a 3rd, not a bad way to kick-off the '08 season. oh wait, i've still got the xc tomorrow! Crap!


sunday dawned picture-perfect. deep blue skies w/fluffy white clouds floating on a breeze just gusty enough to keep the black flies from attacking in droves. instead they dive-bombed your eyes and ears luke skywalker style, going for the weak spots. I love spring in NE. seriously. Black flies and all. Spring = dirt. Spring = racing w/good chaps (and gals!). Good stuff. Linnea, colin, greg, and thom crashed at our place sat night, we had a great breakfast, then split-up for the trip back to coyote hill for the main event. Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

Big field for a regional race, over 20. i went-off a “bit” (aka, stupid fast) strong, really hammering the climb, fighting for 3rd into the singletrack. i was a bit deeper into the pain cave than i'd have liked, and hoped a stiff back would loosen-up w/the legs. the first section of singletrack was dreamy, fast flowing stuff, a fantastic reward for the initial climb. too soon it was over and the real mtnbiking began in a section of lumpy fresh cut which lead into section after section of good 'ole fashion technical mtnbiking. very few breaks on this course, you had to be on your game and at first, I was, albeit riding a bit wild due to going-out too hard.

the anerobic riding makes me go kinda trail blind, i can't look too far ahead, and soon went down hard on a sharp sandy 90 degree downhill corner, ripping the ust Hutchinson bulldog off the rim. I re-inflated it, but in haste didn't remove leaves which hindered it from fully sealing. found myself w/a flabby tire pretty quick. a group of 4 bridged-up to me; i stayed in front through the start/finish, jenn/seneca cheering w/btl, up to the fireroad climb reaching for the co2 and nozzle, jumped-off for quick repair, hoping to get on the back of the train rollin’ by. good re-inflation this time, ride hard to get back-on, knowing i could rest a bit on the swoopy stuff, even let-out an occasional "yippee!"

A big part of mtnbiking is not loosing your head when stuff goes wrong… and remembering that stuff goes wrong not because the course jumps out and grabs your bike, throwing you to the earth unceremoniously, but because of how you're riding, then changing your riding style accordingly. i slowed-up a bit, regained my "vision", and was soon riding just as fast, but cleaner smoother lines.

i found myself riding w/ sean c, always looking over our shoulders for thom; and soon enough he appeared, looking strong, blasting past us after the 2nd lap on his march up the field to a very solid 3rd. nice racing thom!

i fell back a bit on the 3rd lap, musing too much on the monkey knife fight happening deep in my back, twangs down the back of my legs, why didn't i stretch and cool-down yesterday!? then i clicked, snapped. If I’m already in pain, why not go all the way? duh. had to re-remember this after 8months off. i buried myself and slowly ground back-up to sean and a cpl others, but was riding sloppy lines to do it. on the same 90 degree downhill sandy corner i had ripped the tire off the rim on on the 1st lap, I did it again on the 4th! so much for that desperate rally.

i had no more air and proceeded to run. a co2 happened to fall out of a racer's pocket about a mile later and i thankfully scooped it up and got the tire aired-up for the ride to the finish. i was glad to have fought-off the pain demons and finished as strong as possible.

i was completely shot at the end of the race, it's been awhile since i've felt quite that awful. if you believe you should be riding up front'ish, you do it until you blow, or at least i do. and blow up i did. jenn loaded me into the car and hauled me off, but my day wasn't quite done yet. i had one more stop to make; throw-up on the side of the road 20mins into the drive, which brought cheers from a cpl passing cars w/bikes and number plates on them. Later, I rewarded myself w/some general tsao’s chicken, a cpl long trails, and a screening of star wars.

thank you jenn for doing btl hand-ups for me and 6 others ! and seneca for a 2nd day of "goooo dog go!" seeing them there makes me a happy guy.

thom, colin, and greg looking tough after sat's hill climb...


At 5/29/2008 8:43 PM, Blogger Wheels said...

Dang! I was wondering where my spare CO2 went! Way to finish strong. See you at the races.


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